Despite the global shift towards green financing, UK asset financiers may find it difficult to become standard-bearers for ESG financing, according to two leasing professionals from Metro Bank and Simply Asset Finance

Commenting on the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October, Lauren McQuilken (business development director, asset finance) for Metro Bank and Alexandra McWilliams (broker support manager) for Simply Asset Finance, agreed that the emerging dangers from a warming planet would require professionals to “think creatively” and “on their feet” about how to provide green solutions for their customers as calls for green solutions increase. 

Asked what they thought were the future themes for the asset finance industry, Alexandra McWilliams identified “green financing and green energy” as significant and growing areas of funding. 

Green asset funding

“As businesses, we have to think about whether we can contribute to [ending] the environmental crisis … and what we can do internally and how we can help UK SMEs become more environmentally friendly and adapt to the changes that are going to be necessary for businesses to run,” McWilliams said. 

Lauren McQuilken agreed that green funding is a key future theme for asset finance, adding that recent news events suggest that “we have to act and do something [about the environmental crisis],” which will require both “creativity” and “resilience” on the part of finance providers and businesses need to adapt “to the changes that will need to be made,” she said. 

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But when pressed by Lindsay Town, the compere for the interviews, on whether asset financiers should become standard-bearers for ESG criteria, McWilliams and McQuilken said this would be difficult. 

McQuilken said she’s been impressed at the recent market growth for electric vehicles across the entire road transport sector, including cars, vans, HGVs and buses, and added: “If ‘normal’ assets can adapt and change, why not other assets?, she asked rhetorically. 

The recent success in green vehicle financing has put asset finance businesses in good stead for funding other mechanised assets that are still undergoing transformation, she added.

McWilliams added that financiers can make a real difference by putting customers at ease over their lending decisions, but she admitted that “telling customers” that the lessor would not fund dirty assets “would be difficult.”

In addition, funders and banks “should be making themselves more comfortable about lending against these [greener] assets,” she said.  

Alexandra McWilliams and Lauren McQuilken made the comments during a 30-minute discussion with Lindsay Town, the CEO of IAA-Advisory, as part of a series of ‘fireside chats’ with UK future leaders, to be streamed on 14 October at 1pm.

This interview and live Q&A is the first in a series of ‘Future Leaders’ interviews that Lindsay Town will host this year, after eight interviews with ‘Leasing Leaders’, with both series sponsored by LTi Technology Solutions, a US-based global provider of in-the-cloud asset finance technology.

Robert Taylor, UK country manager for LTi Technology Solutions, said: “Lindsay has managed to capture some wonderful exchanges during his one-to-ones with the leasing executives he’s interviewed so far this year so it seemed natural to extend this format to discussions with up-and-coming professionals in the sector to get an insight into asset finance in the UK from their perspective.” 

LTi Leasing Leaders Series

The ‘LTiConnections: Future Leader Series’ interviews are free to watch and will be followed by a live Q&A session with the interview guests and interviewer, alongside LTi’s Taylor. 

Registration is required.

Click HERE to register for the Zoom Webinar.

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